what grip do the pros use?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by heycal, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Does anyone have a list of what forehand grip today's pros use or happen to know that information? Curious to know what particular FH grip is used by such folks as:

    Federer
    Blake
    Ljubijec
    Berdych
    Sharapova
    Henin
    Murray
    Petrova
    Gonzalez
    Roddick
    Davydenko
    Haas
    Dementieva
    Vaidosova
    S. Williams
    V. Williams
    Nalbandian

    And any other current players. Anyone know?
     
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  2. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    From Yandell's articles:

    Eastern grips
    3/3: Sampras, Henman
    3.5/3: Federer, Ancic

    SW
    4/3: Agassi, Safin, Blake, Kiefer
    4/3.5: Gonzo, Nalby, Coria, Hewitt, Ferrero, Kuerten
    4/4: Roddick, Robredo

    Western
    4.5/4.5: Nadal, Grosjean

    Brilliant articles explaining grip and how it dictates your stance choices and what balls you can hit back.
     
    #2
  3. noobplayer

    noobplayer Semi-Pro

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    does it matter what grip players use? use the one most comfortable for u. i recall that j mcenroe used continental grip for forehand. imo, eastern and semiwestern all the most popular grips
     
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  4. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I don't think anybody in their right mind would start out with the continential grip now But I think grip matters because it affects the swing shape that's most comfortable for you. I just think it's interesting that Fed has maybe a flatter swing path than Agassi.
     
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  5. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Thanks. Where is Yandell's article? And what do the numbers beside the player's names mean?
     
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  6. grizzly4life

    grizzly4life Professional

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    i wasn't sure what the #'s mean either...

    i think they have to do with the hand position.. notice the numbers go up, so it has to do with the bevels... sampras/henman palm is square to racquet, nadal is under the racquet (or something like that).

    article sounds interesting.... my forehand has been screwed up before because stance didn't match the grip. and it wasn't that easy to fix. i often have that problem when i haven't played for a month.
     
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  7. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yeah the mumbers reflect bevels. Bevel numbers are shown here

    http://www.tennisgeometrics.com/Grips_tennis.html

    The first number reflects where the index knuckle should be, and that'll probably be enough to get you going. The second is harder to explain without an actual picture. But it translates roughly to how much of the rest of your hand is on that bevel.

    The articles are at tennisplayer and for pay. Worth it BTW. Even if you don't play, those article help you appreciate the pro game so much more.
     
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  8. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    federer uses a eastern grip...? That's shocking
     
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  9. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    I guess you can call it "Eastern-ish." He closes his racquet face, which is weird for the Eastern backswing, and lets the wrist fly.
     
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  10. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Do the names go in order from Eastern to Western, meaning Sampras and Henman are very Eastern, Federer/Anic less so, then Agassi, Safin, and Blake are semi-western, but not as much as Gonzo, Nalby, who are less Western than Roddick, etc?

    Also, if James Blake is considered a flat hitter, is it odd that he uses a semi-western grip instead of Eastern to produce his flat shots?
     
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  11. Hewittfan22

    Hewittfan22 Semi-Pro

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    You would not be able to hit that hard of flat forehand with an eastern forehand grip just simply because you cannot generate that much of racquet head speed, he is using SW for sure. And i think kuerten,ferrero and coria is also full western.
     
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  12. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I don't understand. Generally speaking, I thought eastern grips are better for producing hard and flat shots (like Blake's), while more Western grips are better for producing topspin. Is that not the case?
     
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  13. X_Factor

    X_Factor New User

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  14. Hewittfan22

    Hewittfan22 Semi-Pro

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    you are right about eastern grips are better for producing flat shots but not nessasiliy hard shots, blake's forehand is pretty flat but if you look at it closely its more of a heavy topspin drive than flat. If you look at all these players posses powerful forehand like Safin,Gonzalez,Moya,Blake,Tursonov,Verdasco,Grosjean,Roddick...,,,and so on. They all have one thing in common, they all use somewhere between semi-western to Full western, power comes from racquets head speed not having an eastern grip. The reason why you cant have as much racquet head speed using an eastern forehand grip is because racquet face is pretty open during the swing as to using an western grip is relatively close which will allow you to swing up and over the ball with more racquet head speed generating much more powerful forehand. Mary Carllio once said that she will never teach anyone eastern forehand because its such an old school forehand which doesnt fit in these day's power tennis.
     
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  15. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    If Sampras was just starting his career now, would he still succeed with his Eastern forehand as much as he did before, or would today's semi-westerners leave him behind?

    If the eastern grip is both worse for hitting hard shots and worse for hitting topspin, what the hell IS it good for?

    Or there any modern/young players using eastern? And are there any gender differences between the ATP and WTA players in terms of forehand grip?

    Also, if it's true that semi-western is best suited for today's power tennis at the pro level, is it also true that the semi-western is the best grip for today's 4.0 and below recreational tennis?

    As for Federer's grip, it did look pretty SW in the clip the above, but Tricky says he uses eastern. Anyone know what Federer generally uses?
     
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  16. Hewittfan22

    Hewittfan22 Semi-Pro

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    Well with his superior serve and volley back him up with his average groundies, but if he didnt have those two weapons he would just be an average top 100, although he has that amazing running forehand, i honestly dont know how he pulls that off with an eastern grip. dont get me wrong here though im not saying eastern is bad for everybody who plays tennis, i was just saying that at pro level beucase they hit with so much force, its not an ideal grip to use since it doesnt give you lot of margin for error and power. But if you are playing at level 4.0 and below eastern is not a bad grip to use it at all. I hardly see any juniors who plays competively uses eastern i guess its because their coaches didnt want them to develop a technique which they are not going to use in the future. The coaches who truly understands the modern game of tennis, i can gurantee you they are not going to teach their players to use eastern.
    And for Federer he does not use eastern its so obvious he uses semi-western look at how he holds his racquet and how he swings. Federer uses his wrist so much that its almost hard to imagine that he is using an eastern.
     
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  17. ShcMad

    ShcMad Hall of Fame

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    Federer's forehand grip is usually in between an Eastern and a Semi-Western. So, it's neither 100% Eastern nor 100% Semi-Western. His index knuckle is usually in the border of bevels 3 and 4.
     
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  18. Hewittfan22

    Hewittfan22 Semi-Pro

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    probably strong eastern but defintely not eastern
     
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  19. X_Factor

    X_Factor New User

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    Last edited: Jan 29, 2007
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  20. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Where are you getting this info?
     
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  21. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    totally unrelated to the topic... but that's an Iprestige! Havent seen one of those in a long while...
     
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  22. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, what he says corroborates with what JY is saying. 3.5 = edge between bevels 3 and 4. Now, I'm sure he adjusts the grip against surface, and so he may have a more true SW grip on clay. But it's basically closer to Eastern grip than SW. It's counterintuitive, but again JY has the analysis and video footage to back up what he's saying.

    Fed's FH swing is really weird; it's got classic and modern elements mixed in a way that is counterintuitive. Like, for example, he closes the face with that Eastern grip, so that he has lively wrist action when the swing goes forward.

    There's really good reasons why the rest of the field simply cannot replicate the shots Fed can do. Fed's FH is not merely the most advanced FH in the game. It's literally an evolutionary step forward in the way Borg's FH was in his day. But there's also good reasons why 99% of other people shouldn't try what he does. And there it makes more sense to use a SW grip as what Hewittfan is saying.
     
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  23. X_Factor

    X_Factor New User

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    [​IMG] Coming to grips with today's forehand

    By Christopher Clarey International Herald Tribune
    [​IMG]
    Published: June 25, 2006

    LONDON Tennis technique develops incrementally. Watch thousands upon thousands of forehands being hit by top players over the years and gradually you will come to realize that most of those strokes are no longer finishing the same way.

    The prevailing wisdom on the forehand used to be that you started the stroke low and relatively loose and finished high and relatively firm, thus generating pace and topspin. But somewhere on the long, sweat-stained path that led from Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors to Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer that truism has developed an extra twist.

    Tune your television (or laptop) to Wimbledon this year, and you will see player after player making contact with the ball and then letting their racket head wrap loosely and very quickly around their opposite shoulder or arm where the racket head sometimes even finishes pointing down at the well-groomed turf.

    Watch a while longer and you will see some of these same players hitting what is known as the reverse forehand, in which the racket rises on a much more vertical plane and finishes with the entire instrument above the player's head and the top of the racket pointing backward.

    All this will be easier to grasp in images than in words, but what seems clear is that the game has taken another technical leap with spectacular shotmakers like Federer and Rafael Nadal serving as role models and stroke models for the juniors who will try to build on their legacy.

    "I think what's changed now is really not so much the pace the guys can put on the ball but the spin the guys can put on the ball," said Patrick McEnroe, captain of the United States' Davis Cup team. "And I think part of it is obviously the rackets and the new strings where guys can literally take huge cuts at the ball every time and keep the ball in play.

    "Your margin for error now is no longer, 'I need to take a little pace off and roll it deep to play it safer.' Now, it's, 'Let me spin it full force.'"

    Factor in the wrist-bending, trunk-twisting torque generated by today's open-stance forehands and it is no mystery why players' follow- throughs are wrapping around their bodies like scarves. All that kinetic energy needs an outlet.

    "Lots of things have changed," said Miguel Crespo, the Spaniard who is head of the International Tennis Federation's coaches education program. "In the past we used to see strokes that were pretty much using just one segment and that segment was rotating around the elbow or the shoulder. Now what we see are players using lots of segments of their body to create this power and spin."

    According to John Yandell, a Yale-educated tennis teacher and analyst based in San Francisco, all this is not entirely new.

    "I think it's much more prevalent now, but I've got a piece of video of Bill Tilden turning his hand over and finishing with his racket pointing at the side fence and slightly down, and this was filmed in the 1920s," Yandell said.

    "I think that anything a gifted tennis player can do in the year 2006 has been done by gifted tennis players before. It's hard to say how much it was done and how much when because there is so little historical film to look at, but every shot in the modern game that is hit, I can point to one or multiple examples in the limited amount of film we have.

    "I could show you Rod Laver finishing a forehand in the WCT Final against Ken Rosewall in the 1970s where his left hand is over near his right shorts pocket. There's a bit of a myth that modern tennis is something completely new and so-called classical tennis is sometimes set up as a straw man to be knocked down. However, the one thing that definitely has changed is the extremity of the grips and the amount of topspin."

    Those grips, known as "semi-western," in which the heel of the palm is nearly perpendicular to the plane of the strings, have helped generate another component of the postmodern forehand: the radical twist of the forearm at contact that is sometimes called "the windshield wiper finish."

    Yandell examines tennis, in part, by examining high-speed film, which contains 220 frames a second instead of the usual 30.

    "You can see it very clearly in the video," he said. "It's not a wrist snap; your hand and arm are rotating as a unit. What happens is that the more underneath you are on your grip, the more you will naturally tend to wiper or turn the hand and arm over. So that is far more pronounced in this era, if not new."

    Some coaches, including the Frenchman Patrice Hagelauer, no longer describe it as hitting the ball; they describe it as slapping the ball. "Nadal does it all the time," said Hagelauer, a former national technical director in Britain and France. "The extension of the wrist plus this internal rotation of the arm generates great racket speed and it can do so without a very long swing. It's a great innovation."

    What makes Federer unusual and devastating is that he makes use of the windshield wiper effect on his forehand with a much more neutral grip: more modified eastern, or classical, than semi-western.

    "If you look at people whose grips are similar to Roger, like Andre Agassi or even Pete Sampras, they tend to finish with the racket more on edge more of the time, and they tend to turn it over radically less," Yandell said. "What Roger has done is really synthesize the advantages of the classical and extreme style."

    His grip allows him, like Agassi, to play closer to the baseline than most and take the ball early. But his hand and forearm rotation and open stance allow him, according to Yandell, to generate spin averaging 2,500 total revolutions per minute on his forehand versus 1,800 rpms for the likes of Agassi and the now- retired Sampras when they were filmed.

    "Roger's hitting it as hard but with thirty to forty percent more topspin," Yandell said. "That allows him to find places on the court that nobody since John McEnroe has found, in my opinion."

    "Nobody else looks like Roger," he added. "I don't think anybody else has the natural ability to play with the conservative grip and be able to rotate their hands and bodies that way, at least not yet."

    To give an idea of what Nadal's competition is up against, Yandell's measurements show an average spin value on the Spaniard's forehand of 3,200 rpms with a maximum reading of close to 5,000.

    "That's equal to or slightly higher than the spin values on the second serve of Pete Sampras," he said. "It's incredible."

    Nadal often generates that spin with the reverse forehand: a buggy whip of a shot that was popularized on the run by Sampras in the 1990s but is now being employed in more static positions on court.

    "Nadal takes it to another level," McEnroe said. "That's probably why his bicep is so huge, even though he says he doesn't do a lot of weights."

    Robert Lansdorp, a coach based in California, has taught the reverse forehand for more than a decade, after picking it up from Sampras, and it is no coincidence that two of his most successful pupils - Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova - make frequent use of it.

    In theory, the shot allows the player to make more out of a vulnerable situation, trading horizontal swing speed for vertical swing speed and generating more spin and angle - and perhaps more pace - in the process than a shot executed by swinging across the body from an extended position.

    Sharapova sometimes uses the reverse forehand from a position of strength in midcourt. She also uses it when she feels rushed, or has to deal with a low ball, because it allows her to generate racket speed in an uncomfortable position. But some wonder whether she and other aficionados are taking a good thing too far.

    "I don't necessarily think it's the best shot when you're stable," McEnroe said.

    Still, it bears remembering that today's doubter is tomorrow's tennis convert.

    "When I was 15, my coach told me I was crazy to hit an open-stance forehand; he told me to get off the court," said the former top 10 player Brad Gilbert. "What I promise is that when I'm 60, if the players are doing something that looks crazy and it's working, I'm not going to say they shouldn't. I'm going to say, 'I'm behind the times.'"
     
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  24. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, that's the crux of JY's thesis on the Federer FH. If you could smack a ball like Agassi and create spin rates of a clay court player, your FH will own everybody else's FH regardless of raw power or whatever. Because with this magical FH, you can hit any angle from any height with any pace you want. Essentially, you turn the FH side of your game into a form of extended net approach. Moreover, because everybody else is using more extreme grips, there will always be holes in their strike zone that you can take advantage of.
     
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  25. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    What do you know about Agassi's grip? Is it more like Sampras, or Federer, or is it typical semi-western?
     
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  26. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    If Agassi is a 3/4 (which JY says it is), then it's a pretty conservative SW. Meaning the palm of his hand is still on the bevel 3 rather than under the bar. Blake and Safin is said to have similar setups, and as you can surmise, they all have similar approaches to the game.

    And it makes sense if you think about their games. The grip is not just about the spin you impart, but the nature of your game you want to play and your own eye/hand limitations. This grip, like the Eastern grip, is made for taking the ball early. However, if you let the ball bounce to shoulder high, then it becomes more difficult to smack on the ball and impart enough topspin to keep it down. If you're tall like Safin, this isn't a big deal. Otherwise, you'll have to leave your feet in order to hit the ball in the sweet zone, or play very conservatively. In other words, if you're using an Agassi grip, you better have good eye-hand to consistently take the ball early.

    A guy like Roddick who uses a true 4/4 SW, taking the ball on the rise (at pro level) just isn't his game.
     
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  27. ShcMad

    ShcMad Hall of Fame

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    I tend to agree with John Yandell and tricky about the fact that Safin uses a very conservative Semi-Western grip.

    If you look at these pictures below, you'll see that his finger knuckles are not crossing through several bevels. What I'm trying to say is that the finger knuckles are much more parallel to the length of the racquet than perpendicular. Players like Juan Ignacio Chela tend to lay or spread their knuckles through several bevels; therefore, having it more at a 45% angle related to the length of the racquet, if you guys know what I mean.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2007
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  28. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    It also makes more sense for Safin to use a very conservative grip because he's so dang tall. The ball bounce is lower for him anyway, and so why not use a grip where the "strike zone" is right there.

    The advantage is two-fold. First, it's practical since he doesn't want to claw down for low shots. Second, it means that his ideal strike height is much more variable than, say, an Agassi or Blake -- so he can crush these heavy topspin shots that your 6"1 guys can't.

    But because it's more conservative, it means he's also playing with a lower safety net. More UEs and if his opponent is mixing up pace and junk and if he's not "feeling it", well he'll have a Safin meltdown. And you see that pattern with Blake and even early Agassi too. Unique to Safin, though, his height means he probably can't play any other way or effectively with a more extreme grip. Just too tall.
     
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  29. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Let's have a quick refresher for us newbies: The more western/extreme grip you use, the higher and more in front of you the ball is when you make contact, right?

    So, for players who like to hug the baseline and take it on the rise, they should be using more Eastern grips? Or the other way around?

    But wait, I thought Agassi uses a semi-western and likes to take the ball early and hug the baseline.

    Man, I'm confusing myself here...
     
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  30. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Not necessairly true, Federer has a relatively conservative grip and makes contact out in front of him pretty far.
     
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  31. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yup. And that will affect how far you back you stay, when you go in, and so on.

    If you don't use the double-bend, then of course that changes too. For example, Nadal uses a reverse-FH motion but he keeps his arm pretty straight through the zone. By doing that, he can pretty much hit everything from knee level to above his head, and also hit the ball flat.

    Agassi pretty much uses the most conservative SW grip that is most definitely SW. Agassi keeps much of his hand on the bevel 3, and so his swing plane is pretty level. He's not really using the grip for topspin so much, as that it's easier to use the double-bend technique with this grip than with a true Eastern grip.

    I guess Federer is an exception to this, because he kinda floats his pivot point away from the body, which would be considered bad technique for the double-bend.
     
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  32. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Well, of course I don't really know what the 'double bend' technique is...
     
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  33. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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  34. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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  35. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    There's endless debate about the wrist action of the double-bend, but the idea is to slap the ball by hitting it through the palm of your hand. By doing this, you can accelerate the swing in two stages and generate high racquet speed. Using a SW grip gives you a more stable base and it affects where the optimal hitting point is.
     
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  36. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Are there any gender differences at the pro level when it comes to the forehand grip? Or are the vast majority of women using semi/western grips too?
     
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  37. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I found the following interview from Tennis Magazine with Mauresmo, who I think uses a western forehand grip, interesting, and also a little puzzling:

    QUESTION: YOU HIT WITH A LOT OF TOPSPIN. ON HARD COURTS, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU COULD BENEFIT FROM FLATTENING YOUR STROKES TO BREAK OPEN MORE RALLIES. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED DOING THIS?

    ANSWER: I'm working on that a little bit. I do it more naturally on grass and indoors than on hard courts. But the fact is my grip doesn't allow me to play flat like other players do. And I'm not going to change my grip at 27.

    Elswhere in the article, she mentions that the French Open is not the best surface for her because "it's pretty slow, which doesn't help my game. I've been playing great when I serve and volley on grass and indoors."

    So what do we make of this, guys? If she can't hit flat, and uses a western grip, how can she do well at Wimbledon and serve and volley well? And if she uses a western grip and uses a lot of topspin, why can't she excel on clay like Nadal?
     
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  38. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Where was that top photo of Safin taken, McShad?
     
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  39. ShcMad

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    I got the picture from another user who posted it on another thread. I'm guessing it was taken somewhere in England.
     
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  40. Ocho Cinco

    Ocho Cinco New User

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    I think it was mentioned somewhere that Federer uses a hybrid eastern/SW

    And for the eastern, u can generate topspin but it does not come naturally from the swing because eastern is more flat. You need to "create" the topspin with low to high action and other techniqes
     
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  41. Cenc

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    federer would be something between eastern and semi western
    i havent watched blake for a while but as far as i remember its semi western
    ljubičić semi western
    gonzo semi western
    roddick western
    haas semi western
    nalbandian semi i think
    i havent tried to see others grips
     
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  42. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    What grip does Almagro use for his backhand?

    Watching the match and was curious if any of you could tell me?
     
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  43. Kilco

    Kilco Guest

    Semi Western!
     
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